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Stage 1. St Bernard Pass to Echevennoz

 

 

Colle del Gran San Bernardo, dominated by the statue of Saint Bernard, is the starting point for the walk through the Aosta Valley. Still on Swiss territory, you will find the “Ospizio” or Hospice du Grand Saint-Bernard near the lake, built in 1050. This building is now entrusted to the Canons Regular of St. Augustine. The famous St. Bernard dogs, once trained to rescue people in the event of an avalanche, are still kept by the Canons.
 
From the Great St. Bernard pass, you walk down to the village of Saint-Rhémy, which originally stood on the Roman road “delle Gallie”, opening up between pine forests and rolling pastures, and well known for its production of the exquisite “Jambon de Bosses” (cured ham). Here you take a path that runs alongside a surfaced road through the valley to
Saint-Oyen. Here stands Château Verdun, the home that hosted the Canons of Great St. Bernard’s, known as far back as 1137, and still today a place that welcomes all pilgrims. 

The route then leads on towards Etroubles. Here you will find a number of important historical buildings: the church of Santa Maria, completely rebuilt in 1814. replacing the ancient building that in all likelihood dated back to the 12th century, of which the remarkable bell tower still remains. Also worth noting is the old dairy cooperative building, with its walls blackened by smoke, the first of its kind in the Aosta valley. After Etroubles th route continues in the direction of the hamlet Echevennoz, where the first stage ends.

 

Courtesy of www.lovevda.it

Distance Time Elevation in meters

Km
Elapsed
Hrs-Mins
Moving
Hrs-Mins
Gain Loss Min Max
14.9   3H55 60 1,300 1,233 2,473

   

   

 

 

 

Original map courtesy of "The Via Francigena Terre De Mezzo by Roberta Ferraris ISBM978-88-6189-491-4"

1.1 0.5 km Arrive at Italian Border
1.2 0.8 km Pan de Jupiter lake, and 400 meters furher on return to asphalt road
1.3 2.3 km Casa cantoniere - typical red houses built to house the men who worked on the roads
1.4 5.5 km Track finishes on the A-road
1.5 6.4 km Go right at the last houses
1.6 7.8 km Take the road that goes down and under the A-road for the Gran San Bernado tunnel 300m further on.
1.7 8.2 km Mule track goes behind bell tower of church
1.8 9.1 km

At junction before bridhe turn left onto cart track.
Dry cured ham Valee d'Aoste Jambon de Bosses DOP produced in Saint Rhemy-en-Bosses

1.9 10.8 km On to A-road
1.10 11.9 km After Chateau Verdun (ancient fortified house of note) the road takes you back to A-road
1.11 12.9 km Right into Rue du Mont Velan. Open air scu;pture-museim
1.12 14.4 km Follow mule track to houses of Echevennoz

 

 

Ospizio del Gran San Bernardo
( l’Hospice du Grand-Saint-Bernard )
Route Grand-Saint-Bernard 1946
Bourg-Saint-Pierre, Valais
1946, Switzerland
Phone: +41 27 787 12 36
Email: hospice@gsbernard.com
www.gsbernard.com
The hospice is located 2743m high and was built in 1050 to protect travellers crossing the Alps. Welcomes pilgrims all year round, but during winter the access is possible only by snowshoe or cross-country skiing.

  • Dormitory: 32 CHF night + breakfast only, 50 CHF half board, 67 CHF full board
  • Private bedroom: 47 CHF night + breakfast only, 65 CHF half board, 80 CHF full board
  • Spiritual retreat per group (in dormitory): 28 CHF night+breakfast only, 40 CHF half board, 50 CHF full board
 

Two words are usually associated with the Via Francigena, namely “pilgrimage” and “Middle Ages”. Both remind of a prominent feature of the route, halfway between the materiality of the path and the spirituality of the context; if today these characteristics can be considered as two distinct matters, they were part of the same experience to medieval travellers.

What makes the Via Francigena an absolutely unique path is the underlying reason, if not for its origin, at least for its development: pilgrimage. Besides being a pilgrim route, the Via Francigena is also a “medieval” route, legacy of the Roman road system – in particular of the Via Consolare delle Gallie (Gaul Consular Road), which allowed legions and goods to move quickly from the Italian peninsula to the heart of Gallia and the northern provinces of the Empire.

The route runs along a scenic mule track, and slopes down towards the valley. You will pass through picturesque villages like Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses and Saint Oyen, and will reach Etroubles.

The Great St. Bernard Pass, dominated by the statue of the Saint, is the gateway to the Aosta Valley. The Hospice, built in 1050, is situated in Switzerland, near the lake, and is run by the Canons Regular of St. Augustine. The popular St. Bernard dogs, once trained for alpine rescue in case of avalanche, are still bred and can be found at the Pass in the summertime.

The road, built by the Romans in the 1st century A.D., is carved out of the mountain rock in some stretches, whereas in others is paved; these characteristics recall its former use, i.e. an important communication route between cisalpine and transalpine regions.

The village of Saint-Rhémy, nestled between coniferous woods and slop- ing meadows, is famous for the delicious “Jambon de Bosses”, a PDO raw ham. The distinctive features of the jambon, which is usually allowed to age for at least 12 months, are due to several reasons, such as the skills of the “maturatori” (agers) – handed down from father to son, the dry climate, the particular exposure and the presence of airflows that come from the mountains Malatra, Citrin, Serena and Great St. Bernard. All these elements create the ideal environment for its production and ageing; juniper, thyme, fine herbs from the valley give Jambon de Bosses an aromatic and delicate smell whereas hay, used during the ageing process, gives it an unmistakable aroma.

Saint-Oyen is famous for the Château Verdun, an ancient fortified house that has been at the service of the Great St. Bernard Hospice since the 11th century; after being renovated, it has become a shelter home open to everybody.

The path continues towards Etroubles, a village that boasts important historical monuments like the church, which was built in 1814 to replace the former 12th century building, and the ancient dairy cooperative – the first to be established in the Aosta Valley, with its walls blackened by smoke. Etroubles looks like an open-air museum, with works of art by world-famous artists exhibited in the streets of the village.

 
     

 

Roman road at Great Saint Bernard Pass
Photo courtesy of Palmira Orsieres

Signposting in the first 5 stages in Aosta

Jambon de Bosses

St Rhemy en Bosses

Etroubles